Helping founders raise capital, handle equity, and issue shares | Jason Atkins - Cake Equity
About Cake Equity
Jason: Cake Equity is a software for tech companies to manage their equity. We will handle your stock options, capital raises, cap table modeling, and all sorts of things. We’re currently operating in 80 countries, which is pretty wild. The problem is that quite early in the startup journey, right from day one, founders have an incredible number of challenges to overcome, and equity is a significant component of that. Raising capital and building a team are very challenging things, and equity is a big part of that. We try and make it much simpler for them.
Cake Equity best features
Jason: Based on usage and customer feedback, the best feature is our stock options feature. Implementing the stock option plan, sending the offers out to the employees, getting them signed, and keeping them up to date. We also have a capital raising workflow, speeding up the banking of your capital raise. We have cap table modeling and international stock options that are unique globally, and the platform can handle stock option plans in many different countries.
Start using Cake Equity for free
Jason: It’s free in the beginning for the first five stakeholders is free. A stakeholder could be anyone who owns some stock, whether an option holder or an investor. You get your first five free, which is excellent because, right in the beginning, startups have very little money. After your first few investors then, you pay. The pricing is slightly different in each country, but roughly it starts at about $30 a month in the US, and each country is similarly matched. And then it does go up as you increase the size of the company and the number of stockholders.
Early on, we realized that the equity transaction is just as important as the record keeping. You want all your data in one place online, and spreadsheets are pretty good. We thought we actually needed to make this quite a bit better. Then we started to focus on the transaction itself, and that’s when we integrated DocuSign. That’s been a great choice because the software is powerful. It has been consistent the whole way through. We don’t have any bugs with it, and it’s globally recognized as the industry leader. It’s been a fantastic integration for us.
How important has the customer success team been for you?
Jason: It has been critical from day one for us. Equity is a very complex product, and the customers are unsure of what to do and are nervous about getting it wrong. With that type of product, customer success is vital, and you also get a really strong upfront aha moment. If you can show the customer you understand the problem and that you’re going be able to help them just by bringing down all that anxiety and showing them that there’s an answer, you would do great. We’re continuing to invest in customer success.
Starting the company
Jason: We started it in 2019. We sort of did our initial research in late 2018. We got our cake logo, and we spent about two years in R&D, we didn’t realize it at the time, but we were building and growing and working with customers, and we had revenue. After a couple of years, we were able to go full SaaS. We’ve been SaaS for about two years. It was a combination of experiencing the pain ourselves. We had a couple of other companies beforehand. I was a CFO, and I’d worked in tech companies and seen the experience of capital raising and just how bad it was. It was after that we saw the stock option issue was equally complex, and the product kept growing, which is a bit of an issue for early-stage companies like us.
My co-founder and I are very passionate about innovation and entrepreneurship, and we’re very purpose and mission-led people, and we could see that this problem and this customer was something that we really cared about and that needed to be solved. We could see globally that there was a trend toward solving these problems with technology. The team put it all together, started in Australia, and we’ve been expanding internationally for about 18 months. We chose the SaaS model because of scalability and margin, and the team thought it gave us the most potential to be a unicorn. We decided very early on when we got into Australia’s top accelerator that we would go as big as we possibly could, and it just seemed like the only business model we could choose to be that big.
What has been your best growth strategy?
We’ve been highly successful at community-led growth, which aligns well with product-led growth. We have been utilizing education to connect the community to the product. We’re doubling down on that at the moment, highlighting our culture and our brand and just how much we care about startups in general and getting into communities and adding as much value as possible, first giving all sorts of things. It’s really worked for us, and it’s a bit of a long game, so you’d have to really dig deep to get it done. But it creates a great competitive advantage as well.
Our long-term vision is to have millions of investors and employees utilizing Cake Equity globally to create value. We want to see more people participate globally because equity is truly global. We want to break down the borders as much as possible, and allow people to work anywhere, have equity anywhere, and have private equity portfolios everywhere on the one platform. If we can do that, it will significantly impact equity ownership globally.
What is your story, Jason?
I started as an accountant mainly because I was a bit wild and a bit of a loose cannon in high school. I was always very smart, so one day, my mom told me, if you don’t get this accounting job, I will kick you out of the house. From my personal experience, I wouldn’t recommend accounting, but having a profession I could build from was good. I decided to get this professionally done. Let’s prove that you can do something meaningful to contribute to society. After that, I realized my skill set was much more in working with people and communication relationship management.
I went more into corporate finance and had a sort of corporate finance career. I ended up as a CFO at quite a young age. And then, I went into a family office. I went through accounting, CFO, family office, and investment management. Then I was still only in my thirties, and I just had so much energy and entrepreneurial spirit, and my risk-taking appetite was like through the roof. I just thought I had to go and have my own company, and I had to step this up. That’s what led me to get into real entrepreneurship. Being a founder is a funny thing. It’s so different from anything else I’ve done in my career and takes a lot of self-awareness. It takes a lot of reflection, it takes a lot of flexibility, and positivity to be able to work with people really well over a long period of time.
What’s your best piece of advice for founders?
Jason: As a seed stage founder, you need to become a student of startups. Forget everything you knew before, and read the top 10 startup books. You must know them 100%, or you’re going to fail. Learn startups, learn the culture, learn the methodologies. This allows you to move so much faster. Speed is so critical, especially this year. It’s going to be harder to raise capital, and it looks like. You need to go even faster than ever before. Find out who you are, and be comfortable in who you are, what you do, and why you’re doing it, connecting to your purpose. Be there to help people. People are very supportive if you can do those things and talk about it openly. People are much more supportive in general than you think they are. Do the right thing for the right reasons because people can tell whether you’re there to help or not.
Connect with Jason
Cake Equity: cakeequity.com